Possession of Prescription Drugs
Unfortunately, it is all too common for innocent patients to receive prescriptions for painkillers or other medications after surgeries or medical procedures only to become addicted during the recovery process. Due to the high potential for addiction and abuse of prescription medication, New Jersey lawmakers heavily regulate the prescribing and dispensation protocol related to these drugs. As such, any individual found in possession of prescription medication without a valid prescription can be charged with a criminal offense. Further, a medical professional or another individual who dispenses prescription medication outside of the confines regulated by law may also be exposed to felony charges and severe penalties.
Some of the most commonly abused prescription medications which may result in criminal charges for those who possess or distribute them illegally include: Morphine, Xanax, Vicodin, Oxycodone, Percocet, Fentanyl, Methadone, Adderall, Valium, Ritalin, and Suboxone.
Many times, the difficulty in obtaining these substances can lead to other criminal behavior such as prescription fraud, forgery, and even theft. Sadly, in other cases, an addiction to prescription medication, such as an opiod like Oxycodone, can lead to use and dependence on a “street drug” such as heroin, which can also result in criminal charges.
These allegations can be crushing for you and your family. However, you do not have to face them alone. The attorneys at Breslow Law Offices have witnessed countless cases involving those charged with possession of prescription drugs. They are profoundly committed to working with you in order to determine and achieve the most desirable outcome. Contact their office at 973-239-8000 anytime for a free consultation.
Prescription Drug Charges in New Jersey: N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.5
According to New Jersey law, “prescription legend drug” refers to “any substance which under Federal or State law requires dispensing by prescription or order of a licensed physician, veterinarian or dentist.” Violations involving these substances are outlined in N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.5, which dictates the following:
- Disorderly Persons Offense: Possession of a prescription drug in a quantity of 4 or fewer units or pills.
- Fourth Degree Crime: Possession, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute a prescription drug in a quantity of 4 or fewer units or pills.
- Third Degree Crime: Possession, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute a prescription drug in a quantity ranging from 5 to 99 units or pills.
- Second Degree Crime: Possession, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute a prescription drug in a quantity of 100 or more units or pills.
Possession of Prescription Drugs Penalties
In terms of the grading of a prescription medication charge, the seriousness of the charge is contingent upon the amount, specifically, the number of pills or units associated with the alleged offense. The penalties for a charge in any degree can be severe, as illustrated below:
- Second Degree Charge: punishable by a term of incarceration ranging from 5 to 10 years in New Jersey State Prison, as well as a maximum fine of $300,000
- Third Degree Charge: punishable by a term of incarceration ranging from 3 to 5 years in New Jersey State Prison, as well as a maximum fine of $200,000
- Fourth Degree Charge: punishable by a maximum term of incarceration of 18 months in New Jersey State Prison
- Disorderly Persons Charge: punishable by a maximum term of 6 months to be served in the county jail, as well as a fine of up to $1,000
Possession of Prescription Drugs Charges in NJ?
It is important to note that there are a number of viable alternatives to a conviction for those charged with a first-time prescription medication offense, including conditional discharge, the Pre-Trial Intervention Program, and Drug Court. Understanding and pursuing all of your available options is essential to successfully resolve your case. Contact the criminal defense attorneys at Breslow Law Offices for additional information and a consultation about your case, free of charge.